Planned march brings new tension to Indian Kashmir

July 14, 2010

SRINAGAR (AFP)— A planned march in Indian Kashmir to mark “Martyrs' Day” heightened tension again Tuesday after security forces appeared to have finally stemmed weeks of deadly street protests.

Separatists called for a third day of strikes on Tuesday and had planned a rally in downtown Srinagar, summer capital of the Muslim-majority region, to remember 21 Kashmiris slain in 1931 by the former Hindu ruler of Kashmir.
Police said no rally would be allowed.
Security forces have been struggling to control demonstrations in the Kashmir valley after being accused of killing 15 civilians -- many of them teenagers -- since the first death, of a 17-year-old, on June 11.
A meeting of local political parties chaired by state chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday concluded with a collective call for the state to hold an independent inquiry into the deaths.
July 13 is marked in Indian Kashmir as the day former Maharaja Hari Singh used force in 1931 to quell protests against his rule, resulting in the death of 21 protestors.
Hari Singh held out for an independent Kashmir when the subcontinent was divided by the British in 1947, but he eventually sided with India.
Separatists mark the day as the start of their struggle, while pro-India politicians see it as the start of a democratic era.
Top separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been placed under house arrest, while other separatists have already been jailed.
Amid tight security, Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other pro-India leaders prayed at the graveyard in Indian Kashmir summer capital Srinagar, where the 21 lay buried.
The 20-year-old fight against Indian rule in Kashmir has left thousands dead.